Monday, January 19, 2015

This Is For You...


This post is for you, mama.

Yes, you - the beautiful and amazing mom reading right now.

This post is for the days that you are in pajamas until 1 pm

...for the days that you have so much going on that you have no idea where to even begin

...for when you have the butterfly feeling all the way up in your throat because there's just too much to deal with

....for the times you feel terrible for yelling way louder than necessary

....for the days when you are so touched out that you can barely stand it

....for when you feel the ultimate frustration in having to tell the kids to get dressed. For the 6th time that day

...for feeling irritated and incensed that the big kids are going to wake the baby if they don't stop what they are doing this very second but you can't yell at them because then you'll wake the baby

...for when you are so mad at the dog for digging in the garbage again that you actually have the though that you can't wait until it's summer and he can be outside all day long

...for laundry days. Otherwise known as - you know - every.day.

....for the times you get to the checkout line at the grocery store with a cart full of groceries and realize you forgot your wallet on the counter at home

...for the nights you wake up with the baby for the 4th time and fantasize about just quitting breastfeeding so your husband could get up with her instead

....for the days when you get to the park after a beautiful long walk with the kids and as soon as you get there your youngest has to go to the bathroom. There isn't a bathroom at the park, and you know it's your own fault for not making them go 2 seconds before leaving.

....for the times when you just feel like you are failing at this whole mothering thing.

I'm here to tell you

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

We all have awful, terrible, horrendous, and no-good days. We all have miserable moments, too.

It's SO ok to feel bad about things. You are human, afterall (even though your kids and husband might think you are super-woman!). It's ok to have those tough moments. We all know that life isn't Facebook perfect.

Please hear me when I tell you this, though. You are doing an AMAZING job!

Don't quit being the super awesome amazing and wonderful person you are! You are doing exactly what's right for your family. You are the perfect mother to your babies (no matter their age), and everything you do proves it!

So when those tough moments and days come your way, know you will persevere - you can do it! You will get through it, and when you do, you will enjoy the good days and times that much more. Keep smiling at your kids, love them, hug them, nurse them, and enjoy them.

And don't forget - you have a village here at Elegant and Educated Mommy rooting for you!! Let us know if there's any way at all that we can help you!

You are a WONDERFUL mommy!!

~Evie

Friday, January 16, 2015

Baby Steps and Joy in January

Well, it's the middle of January.

The excitement and celebration from the Christmas Season is but a memory, the tinsel is retired for another year, kids are back to school, and life has returned to a relative "normal" again.

There have been years in the past where I've had a bit of the "seasonal blues" this time of year. I mean, after all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, the days following the big family gatherings and celebrations are kind of a letdown. It's kind of like planning a wedding. You spend tons of time planning, thinking about, shopping for, preparing, cooking/baking, etc. Then the big day comes (or days, depending on when/how you celebrate), and then it's done.

No more Christmas music or movies.

No more anticipation.

No more excitement.

No more baking.

No more wrapping or shopping.

It's just......over.

No wonder I've had a hard time with January in the past (I'm guessing I'm not alone...?)

I'm guessing there are several reasons that I haven't struggled with those feelings as of late. I think one of the reasons is the kids. Since they are getting older and reaching an age where they actually will remember Christmas celebrations, there's more of a feeling that it's not about me anymore. It's about them. I want them to fondly remember Christmas, but also what happens after Christmas.

I want them to enjoy life for what it is, not just because there's a fancy tree with presents underneath it in our living room.

There's beauty in all of life - even the not-so-awesome times, and I pray that I am showing them that by my actions and attitudes. It's a learning process and I doubt I'll ever "arrive". But I can strive for constant improvement.

The other day we were on a long-ish road trip back from Pierre. My dad is in the SD State House of Representatives and got sworn in on Tuesday. On our way back home we had snacks and drinks. We had just passed an exit when my delightful and darling 5 year old son said those inevitable words: "Mom, I have to go potty."

Frick.

I made an exasperated face, sighed a huge sigh, then said with dread and disgust in my voice, "You're kidding me, right?"

He looked at me and with a very soft and sorry voice "No mommy, I really have to go."

I don't know if it was the look on his face, his sweet and honest response, or something else completely. But something hit me.

I really looked and sounded like I was annoyed and maybe even angry that he had to go. The thing is, I wasn't angry. I wasn't even really very annoyed. Sure, it's an inconvenience to stop  on the side of the road for him to go, but that's not his fault. Nor is it his problem. I was more like "exaggeratedly over-reacting". It wasn't necessarily meant for him to feel bad that he had to go.

But he didn't know that. All he knew is how I looked and what I said.

I was reminded of how I felt when my dad had the same reaction when I was a kid and had to go to the bathroom when we were on a road trip. I now know that he wasn't actually mad at me. It was simply the way he reacted. I was also reminded of how I feel when my husband reacts that way about some things. I feel terrible, even though I truly know it's just a reaction - not that he's angry in any way.

So, I determined to change the way I react when one of the kids needs to go to the bathroom when we are on the road.

Instead of giving them a reaction like I have countless times, I'm going to instead look at them, find
out how badly they need to go (i.e. can it wait until the next place to stop or do we need to pull over and "pee like a farm boy/girl") and deal with it without giving them the slightest indication that it might be an inconvenience or that I could possibly be angry about nature calling at that particular moment.

It seems like a small thing, but when that realization hit me and I dealt with myself on it, I felt better about the mother I am, and about the leader and encourager I aspire to be in their lives. I need to continue to better myself, and in doing so will help them to become better people as well.

So even though it's January and it's easy to get some seasonal "blues", it's baby steps like this that help me to realize that life is surely beautiful.

Even when we have to stop on the side of the road to pee in the winter.

Hopefully the kids will catch on to my attitude and notice that joy in everything that comes our way. Not just in January. Or December. But all year long.

~Evie

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It's that time again...

We need to update our Facebook cover photo!



We love featuring your beautiful photos on our Facebook cover because YOU are what Elegant Mommy is all about! We are a store that is passionate about giving YOU the support you need all throughout your natural-parenting journey!

Do you have a photo (or 2 or 3 *wink*) you would like to submit to be voted on and maybe be featured? Any photo you submit should embody Elegant Mommy in some way - maternity, newborn, breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering, natural family living, etc. As our motto states "From Your Baby Bump to Your Baby's Rump, We've Got You Covered"

If you have any snapshots or photographs (you must have copyright release) you would like to submit, please email them to us at photo@elegantmommy.com by the end of the day on Sunday (1/19/15).

After we receive all your awesome photos, the Elegant Mommy's will choose some finalists, and then YOU will get to vote for the winners!

It is always so fun to see your wonderful photographs - get them submitted today!

~Evie

Friday, January 9, 2015

When Babies Cry

We've had some super cold and yucky weather here in the past week. So much so that we've had to cancel both Milk Monologues on Wednesday and our Evening Milk Monologues on Thursday.

In lieu of actually getting together this week, I wanted to share some advice from La Leche League on Responding to Your Crying Baby. This is an excerpt taken from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding on that very subject:

When a baby cries, a nursing mother's immediate instinctive response is to offer her breast. Whether it's been ten minutes or two hours since baby was fed, a few minutes of sucking may be all he needs to settle down. Baby's appetite can vary from day to day, so he may really be crying because he's hungry. Or perhaps he just wants the comfort of being close to you. Either way, nursing him may be the answer.


But what if that's not what he wants after all? Then you need to check into other possible causes. Perhaps he's too warm, or maybe he's too cold. Perhaps something he is wearing is causing the problem. Try removing all of his clothes.  Look for a pin or rough label, or something binding around his leg or arm - sometimes a hair from a mother's head can wrap tightly around baby's toe. Look him over carefully from top to bottom, just to be sure that nothing is hurting or irritating his tender skin.

If he seems too warm, try leaving him in just a shirt and diaper. If the room is chilly, try wrapping him in a soft blanket. Some babies feel more secure if they are wrapped up snugly, or swaddled.

Once he is snug and dry, offer him the breast again. This time, he just may drift off to sleep. But sometimes the baby doesn't want to nurse, or has downed so much milk he repeatedly spits it up, and still he cries. What then? Try holding him against your shoulder and with a background of soft music or your own lullaby, glide through the house doing the "baby waltz." Some mothers put the baby in a baby carrier and vacuum the rugs. The droning noise of the vacuum cleaner and the accompanying body movements often lull the baby to sleep. How about a drive in the car? Or a stroll outdoors? A warm bath may soothe and relax both of you - try taking baby into the tub with you.

A time-honored way of soothing a crying baby is time spent in a trusty rocking chair together. A steady rocking rhythm, some gentle patting on his back, and perhaps a soothing lullaby can work their magic on the fussiest of little ones. In fact, Becky Conley from Illinois swears by her "magic rocker":

No matter how hectic the day or how frantic the world may seem, we can retreat to the arms of our rocker and be suddenly oblivious to it all. Peace descends on us; tensions float away; and love surrounds us like a cloud. We can go anywhere we please in our rocker: Over the years since Eli was born, we've been to desert islands, mountain ranges, endless beaches, and on a few, very special occasions, to what surely must have been heaven.

Some babies cry because they are overtired, but they aren't happy being held as they fall asleep. Try laying your baby in his cradle or on a blanket on the floor and talk or sing to him softly as you pat him gently. He may continue to fuss for a few minutes, then close his eyes and drift off to sleep. You'll soon know if he is truly tired and ready to sleep or not. If he becomes increasingly more anxious (even five minutes is a long time for a baby to cry), pick him up again.

Babies are sometimes fretful for reasons that no one, not even a mother, can understand. If you can't calm your baby right away, try not to let it upset you. "Don't take it as a personal rejection of you," a mother who has gone through the experience advises. Your baby will always benefit from a calm, loving mother. In handling any tiny baby, you have to move slowly and gently. Fast, jerky motions and loud noises may startle him. If he is already upset for some reason, accept the fact and work from there - slow and easy.

Remember - we are all here for you! If you need some help, we've got support groups available - Every Wednesday at 1 pm is Milk Monologues, and every 2nd Thursday of the month is Evening Milk Monologues at Educated Mommy. You can also get one on one help from Educated Mommy's IBCLC (the wonderful Alicia Fonder), which is charged on a sliding scale. Just give her a call at 605-553-8364.

~Evie

Friday, January 2, 2015

Agreement

Happy New Year! Today we have a guest post from a dear friend of mine - after reading it when she shared it with me I decided I needed to share it with all of you. I have been thinking similar thoughts for some time now, but haven't taken the time to put my thoughts into words-on-paper. Thank you, Beth, for eloquently saying things that I think most of us can agree with!
~Evie

Agreement.

The word agreement, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is defined as such: agree·ment

noun \ə-ˈgrē-mənt\

: the act of agreeing

: a situation in which people share the same opinion : a situation in which people agree

: an arrangement, contract, etc., by which people agree about what is to be done


I would like to focus mainly on the third definition. An arrangement, contract, etc, by which people agree about what is to be done.


We have all heard about the power of positive thinking. Mayo Clinic even has articles about how positive thinking can help with stress management and improving your health. We KNOW that our outlook on life affects our quality of life.



The same can be said about agreement. Positive agreement can have a profound effect on our lives. It is by agreement that the triune God created the earth. According to the Bible, it is by agreement that covenants are made (2 Kings 23:3), and by agreement that anything we ask shall be done by the Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:19)

Needless to say, agreement is a pretty powerful force. Generally we think of agreement as a positive thing, done in a positive state. But in all truth, it is actually lived out more often than not, negatively.

Think about your typical beauty shop talk or hen house chatter. How much of it is uplifting and encouraging? How much of that gossip centers around what someone is doing wrong or how others feel they are under performing.


Now let’s put that in the realm of motherhood and parenting. We’ve all heard of the mommy wars. Breast vs. Bottle, pacifiers, vaccinations, hospital vs. homebirth, etc. It’s almost like Newton’s Third Law of parenting. “For every choice available, there is an equal and opposite option and choice and group pushing for it”.


I think it’s pretty safe to say we have all experienced this “negative agreement” at one time or another. It comes to us in comments such as “you look tired, are you feeling ok?” or to the pregnant mama “just wait until that baby comes, then you’ll really miss your sleep!” or “haven’t you had that baby yet? You must be so sick of being pregnant.” To the new mother trying to find her footing we offer all our horror stories and tell her of all the ways she can or is going to mess up her child. To the mom struggling with toddlers we tell her to just wait until they are teenagers, then she’ll really know what it is like to struggle. To the mom recovering from a miscarriage we tritely offer that “something must have been wrong” or it was just “God’s will” for her to lose her baby. To the single mothers we look at them in pity and tell them how we have no idea how they do it. To the mothers whose husbands work long hours or are away from home often we tell them “we’ll see how long you last.”

Why? All of these statements are just tearing other mamas down. Whether we realize it or not, we are forming negative agreements against our fellow moms. All the other comments she has already heard, as well as any of her own doubts we have now validated in her mind. It’s almost as if we are cursing them and their efforts. Why? Why do we feel the need to do this? It’s the crab bucket mentality. It’s our own self-image issues and our own struggles with our identity as mothers. We take it out on others. We feel that we couldn’t possibly handle that situation the way they are handling it, so we tear them down to make ourselves feel better. Generally I believe this all takes place behind the scenes in our minds and that most of us don’t truly wish negative energies on our fellow mamas. But just like the crab trying to get out of the bucket, we grab them by the leg and pull them back down.


In this new year I challenge you to make a conscious effort to stop the negative agreement. Let’s start being a positive change and spreading positive vibes to our fellow mamas. We are all in the trenches together, no matter what stage of motherhood we’re in. Let’s stop pulling each other down and start building up. Think closely about what you’re going to say before you say it. Don’t spread negative energy and agreement. There is enough of that in the world without us fueling it in our own villages. Think positive, be positive, and let’s start 2015 with positive agreements.

~Beth

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Have I Lost It?

I think I have lost it.

Everyone does at some point or another, I think.

Maybe I can fake it.

Well....I do fake it sometimes.

I'm talking, of course, of creative-imaginative-kid-play.

My kids often ask me to tell them a story. I can easily tell them stories that I know. Stories like The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, or Little Red Riding Hood. And I'm actually pretty good at it.

But they want me to make up a story to tell them. I usually shutter a little (on the inside of course) when they ask me to do that. I'm just not very creative on-the-fly like that. I do ok, but usually it's a pretty predictable, short story that any adult would think is pretty pathetic.

Then there's the imaginative play.

You know. Like with cars or trucks or something. My son LOVES it when I play those with him.

Why couldn't my daughter ask me to play dolls with her? Or barbies? Or house? Those things I can do. Those are the things I played with.

But cars? trucks? I don't even know where to begin.

So, with a resigned smile and an internal pep-talk, I agree to play with him. I try to take his lead, but usually he's wanting me to take the lead.

I generally do the only thing I can think of. Suggest races between our respective cars/trucks/tractors/whatever, or turn the cars into humans that talk and interact.

Yesterday, my car invited all the other cars over for a karaoke party. Each of our vehicles sang a song, then my pet robot-dinosaurs showed up and scared all the guests. It was kinda awesome.

Our karaoke party with my pet robot-dinos

Then we had a contest to see which cars could get away from one of the robot-dinosaurs before getting bitten.

Just like the stories I tell, any adult would find it totally lame.

But I wasn't playing with other adults.

I was playing with my kids. And they thought my "lacking" creativity was pretty awesome, and right before we started playing, as I was texting my husband, my 6 year old said "no more screens, Mom. It's time to play"

So, have I lost it? I don't know....maybe. Do I fake it? Yep. But it doesn't matter. My kids think playing with their mama is pretty sweet, and that's all that really matters. As much as I dread it sometimes, I take the time to play when they ask me to - no matter what they want to play or want me to do. Hopefully they don't stop asking me anytime soon!

Now....I have to go. I promised them a super-awesome (i.e. totally lame) story this afternoon. I'll catch you on the flip side.

~Evie

Friday, December 26, 2014

It Happens Every Christmas...

I get very reflective. Not just about Christmases past, but mostly of our sweet Porter-boy's birth. I just confirmed that it happens every Christmas...I even posted about it last year (I'll probably post about it next year too, so just get used to it - ha! ;) )

Anyway, in case you missed it then, here is my sweet boy's birth story from Christmas day five years ago:

I was due on December 14. I was convinced I would have the baby the week before that. I don’t know why, I just had prayed for it and wanted him to come then so his birthday wouldn't be so close to Christmas. Well, those days came and went, my estimated due date came and went. I felt great, the only reason I was upset that I hadn't had the baby was that the closer to Christmas it got, the less likely I was to see my family – we all were to be traveling “home” for Christmas. I had many bouts of prodromal labor. It was SO frustrating!

Well, as Christmas approached, so did a major weather system. Since my mom lives an hour away, we decided that she should probably come stay with us just to make sure she was here in case the weather and roads were too bad when I finally went into labor - after all, she needed to be here to catch the baby. She came on Monday. The weather raged on through the whole week. Thursday (Christmas Eve) was Randall's (my husband) birthday, so Vienna (our 23 month old daughter) and I made him a nice dinner, cake, a card, and we had a little “party”. Still no baby. I was getting very frustrated and sad that I hadn't had him yet. Mom was going to miss Christmas morning with my dad and youngest brother (high school age). That night before going to bed, we watched the Nativity Story. I remember thinking “ok, baby. I’m ready anytime! If Elizabeth and Mary can have safe and peaceful out of hospital births, I can too!”. I was a little jealous that they had already done it – silly but true J.

I woke at about 2:15 a.m. to go to the bathroom. I went back to bed and couldn't fall back asleep so justJ.
laid there for awhile resting. I realized that I was actually having some regular contractions – they were more regular and increasing in strength than my previous bouts of labor. Hooray! I got up to start timing them – they were about 2 minutes apart. I told Randall that we needed to clean the floor. I didn't know where I would end up having the baby, and I couldn't stand the thought of him being born to a dirty floor. Funny, the things that are important at that time in labor 

With the floors clean, I finally decided it was time to wake my mom. About that time, my contractions intensified – though they weren't painful, I could feel the strength of them. I was sitting on my birth ball, mom gave counter pressure on my back, I leaned into my hubby, and just relaxed and let the contractions do their job. In between contractions I was so relaxed that I honestly kind of forgot I was actually in labor. Randall would pull up funny YouTube videos, and we would joke and laugh. It was a wonderful and relaxing fun time. About 6:00 a.m. I decided to move to the bathtub. Ahhhh – bliss! They took turns dumping a pitcher of water over my belly, and it was SO wonderful!

About 10:00 a.m. or so I felt a little urge to push – it definitely wasn't the intense urge I had had with Vienna. In the next three contractions, my healthy baby boy oozed out with barely any pushing on my part. Of course I was overjoyed and excited. I just held him and looked at him in awe. As blood was still pulsing through the cord that connected us, he began nursing like a champ. When I finally let my hubby and mom hold him after we cut the cord so they could weigh him, I made them do it again. He seemed so small! There was no way he was 8 lbs 11 oz! Well, they weighed him again, and yep – it was right the first time and they showed me to prove it. I was shocked!

My entire labor, we had Christmas music playing softly in the background. Vienna slept through most of it and was enjoying her breakfast when he entered the world. Within minutes she joined us in the bathroom and met her baby brother. About an hour or so after having him, we were all in our living room and our little family that had just grown by one opened our Christmas presents. After eating, he and I snuggled into bed and took a long nap. This all happened while getting 16.2 inches of snow during the worst blizzard of the year! We felt so blessed to not have to go out into the elements to get to the sterility of the hospital. We were warm and cozy in the comfort of our own home!
______________________________

And here he is today, our adorable and super-sweet five year old!


~Evie